Monday, January 26, 2009

The Winter Blahs.....

And, they really do feel like they sound. Go ahead... say it: BLAAAAHHHHS. Or, is it Winter Blechs?

For those of you who live in warmer climates, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about, right?
So, it's January.... so what?


(Sorry, meant to use my "inside voice", but my "outside voice" keeps flying out of me due to such little use.)

Close your eyes (I'm sure those peepers could use a break from all the sunshine anyway) and just imagine:

You wake up in the morning and your feet hit the floor.
YOWZA! The floor is about 50 degrees colder than your warm bed!

You soldier on to the bathroom and the rest of your morning routine. This has to be done while wearing a down-filled parka and sheepskin-lined boots, as the night's subzero temperatures have taken their toll on your usually-reliable heating system. Have you ever tried making coffee while wearing mittens?

Time to get the kiddies out the door and to school! Better leave plenty of time for this. I've got it down to a science, of course (wink, wink).
First, I give a 10 minute warning so that my kids know they should begin searching for their snow pants, gloves, hats, jackets, lunchboxes, and backpacks.
While they're "happily" occupied ("I can't find my other glove!", "My teacher says I need a warmer hat."), I run out to the car and start it up, because, in this weather, all cars need at least 10 minutes to reach an inside temperature of 15 degrees.
I race back inside, where the two oldest kids are ready to go.
I send them out to wait in the car, while I chase down the toddler and wrestle him into his boots, jacket, hat, and mittens.
All the while, I'm shouting directions to the 8-year-old and 6-year-old, "The liner for your right boot is in the back of the hall closet!", "I have NO IDEA where your gloves are! Borrow your brother's other pair!", "If we are late for school just one more day, I will let your teachers take you home with them today!".
After one final "Bad Mommy Moment", the rest of us dash out to the car, where I somehow manage to buckle the toddler into his car seat AND keep both of his boots on his kicking feet.
As I buckle myself into my seat, I hear a whoosh and a thump behind me, accompanied by a little voice saying, "Boot, off. Thock, off". Great, this means I'll bring home an 18-month-old with maybe just 8 or 9 toes.
Me: "Just one morning this month, I'd like to get out of the house on time. With everyone in all the correct outerwear, and carrying all the correct school-gear. JUST ONCE! NOW, let's say today's prayers!"
I'm sure Baby Jesus is smiling.....

I spend the rest of the day trying to find any and all reasons not to leave the house. Let me assure you, that a lot of closets and junk-drawers get cleaned and organized between January and April in our house.

Then it's time to pick up the 4 oldest kids from school. It's almost easy getting just one child ready to go out the door. Almost.
As I arrive at the school's carpool line, I mentally prepare myself for the blessing that is the onslaught of constant noise and "sibling camaraderie" for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Because, as all you Midwestern moms know, the four walls of your home never seem to close in on you as quickly as they do between 3 PM and 8 PM. For everyone else, try to recall the giant garbage disposal scene in Star Wars, only I don't have an R2D2 to override the system.

If it's 25 degrees (OK, maybe 20 degrees) or warmer, I can send the kids out to play for awhile. But, this winter it seems we have been "fortunate" enough to have every day hover right around 3 degrees.
So, we sit inside. TV only causes more fights because no one can agree on a show. Board games usually end with someone crying. Arts and crafts are a complete joke, literally, because my kids find it amusing to paint one another's bodies and, upon washing it off, leave all the paint in the bathroom sink and tub.

Last week, we had a day off from school and I tricked those little buggers....
We cleaned the entire house from 10 am until 5:30 PM. Three of the kids tried to beg off because they felt sick, but anyone with a temperature of less than 101 degrees was required to participate. I showed them. (Is this the part where the men in the white coats cart me off?)

Seriously, if you are going to be forced to stay inside for 6 months at a stretch, you may as well have a clean environment.

Are you beginning to see why it's call the Winter Blahs? Just a little bit? If you're not yet convinced, please re-read the above post.

And, remember... the above description is just Day 51 out of 120 days.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Quick One....

So far, I'm down 2.2 pounds (down is good, but I wish it were more) and still hanging in there... with ENTHUSIASM!

Thought For The Day For All Those Kind Folks Who Look At Me and "All Those Kids" With A Mixture Of Incredulity, Disgust, and Superiority:

Do you know that I pity you? I mean, TRULY pity you? I know all the wonderful things you are missing; choosing to shut out of your life.
Just *think* about it the next time you think you should feel sorry for me, or "educate" me. (Thanks, but my parents spent a lot of money on private schools already!)

More later!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is anyone else sick of Oprah?

Totally unpopular thing to say, I know, but REALLY!

The woman is apparently single-handedly responsible for the salvation of all the poor and destitute of Africa and North America. Oprah is also the go-to woman for anything regarding spirituality, interior design, and healthy eating. She's also responsible for getting us all interested in reading again, and (HALLELUJAH!) for the election of our next, I mean President!
Even when she "stumbles" and admits to (horror of horrors!) gaining weight, it's only a new opportunity for personal growth (no pun intended!). Grr.....

So, is Oprah the long-awaited Savior? Is she the wise old sage who lives on the mountaintop? Is she the answer to all of our physical and metaphysical problems?
Well, I certainly don't think so.
Of course, I seem to be in the minority (what else is new?).

It stands to reason that, as our world's economy worsens, people will start looking for some answers. But, Oprah was popular before this mess started.

Look around you.... Take a good look... What do you see? I'll tell you what I see:

I see people choosing to spend time with machines, instead of their families and friends.
I see people scoffing at the "ignorance" of organized religion; instead of flocking to church, they are hot-footing it to the gym &/or mall.
I see people placing all their faith in technology and science.
I see people hurrying from their cars into their homes, instead of sitting on their front porches and visiting with neighbors.
I see people looking to be a part of a "community" (apparently the gym doesn't have those), and feeling frustrated when a playgroup doesn't live up to the requirements.
I see seemingly unexplainable terrible illnesses and accidents happening to good people, and others want to know what those people did "wrong" so that they can squash the fear that it will happen to them.
I see people seeking ultimate and permanent happiness, and some even boasting that they have found it.

People want perfection, complete happiness, wealth, love, unconditional support, and validation. AND, they want it now and forever.

Enter Oprah. (Do you hear the choirs of angels singing?)

Oprah is an absolute genius. Oh, she's not an academic genius, or anything like that. What she is extremely savvy at is paying attention to what people want and then producing all the "right" answers.
And, just having a ready answer all the time is the first thing people want, in and of itself. Americans, especially, think that we have to have an answer for anything (does the word "transparency" sound familiar to you?) and everything. Hey, if someone can give you a quick answer and sound knowledgeable and authoritative while they're speaking, then they must be right!

You want to know how to find the right person to fall in love with?
Aw, heck, Oprah will bring on 7 different authors and psychologists who have an opinion that they are absolutely sure is correct.

You want to know how to get out of debt?
Hey, you are in luck! Oprah just happens to know a lady who has the financial world all figured out (this lady also has the special ability to be able to know exactly what is wrong with everything else in the world, too! BONUS!)

Hold onto your socks for the next one.....

Feeling all "backed up" and unhealthy? Well, yippy-skippy! That human dynamo named Oprah found some doctors who can tell you how your "productions" should and should not look! (That last one really put me over the edge! I can't even go to the bathroom correctly???)

Of course, I am not trying to minimize Oprah's accomplishments. She has done some pretty good things for people (and cameras just happened to be there while she was doing it. Sorry, I'm stopping...).
I think it's taken on a whole different edge, though, when people begin to think that all their problems can and should be solved by one person. No matter who that person happens to be.

The lesson we all can learn, over and over again, is this: Human beings, ALL of us, are inherently flawed, imperfect. There is not one among us who has all the answers. Any time we put our faith in a person, we will, eventually, be disappointed.
We are all searching. And, that's why we are search. And, through the journey of searching, we are supposed to try to better ourselves so that when we die we can enjoy perfect and eternal happiness (maybe just not the kind we think we need!).
And, I have news for you: ALL of us are going to die. That IS one answer I can give you quickly and most-assuredly.

Even Oprah is going to die. She'll just do it more spectacularly than the rest of us. Maybe she'll even feature her FAVORITE CASKET on her next Favorite Things show!!
OOOO! I can't wait!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Yes, You Heard Me Correctly!"

Something has been bothering me for a while; for years, actually. And, if I'm even remotely like most people (some days more than others!), than I'm sure it bothers other people, as well.

What am I talking about? Well, there is no ONE word to sum it up, but I'll try to explain it as best as I can..... (warning: get a cup of coffee and a comfy chair!)

I will be the very first person to tell you that I do not live the "standard" American lifestyle; I do not work away from home, I have more than 1.2 children (how in the Good Lord's Name do you achieve .2 children?), and I usually don't follow the typically "politically correct" way of thinking/speaking.
So, then, what is my lifestyle? Hmmm.....
I think you could call it the "Don't Pigeon-Hole Me" lifestyle;
-I believe in God,
-I try to put my faith, religion AND spirituality into action everyday,
-I make mistakes and commit sins (nothing too serious, I hope!) everyday,
-I am the mother of 6 children,
-I have been married to the same man for almost 15 years,
-I have delivered my babies both naturally and surgically (both at the hospital and at home, both with doctors and with midwives),
-I send my kids to school (albeit a Montessori school!),
-I cloth-diaper and disposable-diaper,
-we are a "co-sleeping" family,
-I serve both organic and non-organic foods,
-we eat fast food (on occasion!),
-I breastfeed (yes, for longer than 6 months),
-I wear makeup, dye my hair (do you know how many grey hairs FOUR boys can cause?),
-I watch Comedy Central,
-I watch PBS,
-I poke fun at a lot of people,
-I try to have real compassion for others,
-I am a fiscal and social conservative,
-I am an American patriot who believes in *inalienable* rights,
-There are dust bunnies under my bed,
-I DO tidy-up my home everyday,
-I believe my kids need discipline,
-I believe my kids need love,
-I hate to exercise,
-I don't really care for "being one with Nature",
-I love Autumn,
-I love coffee,
-I am in love with my husband,
-I try not to make fun of other people who say they are "in love" with their spouses.

I am all these things, and more. Just like every other human on this planet, I am an amalgamation of complexities and contradictions. I like being this way. I like being different.

And, yet.... When faced with most social situations, I find myself loathe to "admit" to the above characteristics. I listen while, seemingly, everyone else in the group agrees on politics, religion, child-rearing, education, economics, and environmental issues. And, in my head I'm thinking, "Yeah, not so much. I don't think I have very much in common with you. I'd like to enter into the 'discussion' and explain why I believe what I believe." But, there I sit.... the quietest loud-mouth you ever saw.

Why? I ask myself the same thing all the time. It's been bothering me more and more, of late. I think it because I'm afraid. In the past, when I have tenatively expressed a dissenting opinion during these "group exercises", I have been (politely) derided and/or ignored. Only a very few times did someone ask me for the reasons behind my opinion, and even fewer times did people bother to listen to my argument. Mostly what happens, is that I am treated to more than one person telling me that I'm wrong because (here's my favorite part) "don't you know that NO ONE ELSE thinks like that?" (By the way, this has happened more than a dozen times, so it's not a one-time fluke). There's some logic for you.

So, I thought to myself: "Don't I live in a country where we have Freedom? Where I have the Freedom to express my opinions, even if the majority of people disagree with me? Isn't this wonderful Right to Freedom protected by my government? Doesn't that mean I am safe and protected when I disagree (politely) with others?"
The short answer is, of course, "yes".

But, I also am aware (mostly on a subconscious level) that human beings have a herd-like/flock-like mentality (hence, the Bible's not-so-subtle references to people being "sheep"). We feel comfortable, even powerful, when we are surrounded and validated by people who agree with us. That's OK. That's normal.
I think where we run into trouble (and, I am guilty of this, too) is when we assume that anyone holding an opinion that disagrees with the "majority", is wrong. It's more than "wrong": that person is crazy, evil, ignorant, uninformed, uncaring, unpatriotic.

I am sure that none of these observations come as a shock to you. We have all felt them, acknowledged them, and worried about them from time to time. I would like to leave you with this thought:

Wasn't it the "minority", the ignorant, the rebellious, the crazy, the evil people who dared to defy a monarchy and an empire who gave us this Freedom to hold differing views AND be able to respectfully announce these views?

Also, I DID shock some of you when I *admitted* to some of the things on my "list", didn't I? I would be so disappointed if I didn't.
Oh, did I mention that I'm also slightly rebellious and perverse by nature?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hello Weight Watchers!

Well, I'm back with Weight Watchers.... again. This time, to jazz things up a bit, I'm doing the online version. Almost 3 full days into it, and I am feeling pretty good.

I've done Weight Watchers before. Several times before. The first time was when my 3rd child was 13 months old and I lost 50+ pounds. (I was still losing the weight 7 months later when I became pregnant with my 4th child.) I found that I liked the whole Weight Watchers philosophy much more than I thought I would. I liked the Points program that they offer. I was amazed at how much more energetic I felt just from eating the right foods. I felt better about myself; more positive, more empowered. Overall, it was a really great experience. Of course, that was when I was still in my 20s and I had no idea that my metabolism was biding it's time until my 30th birthday, when it would magically come to a screeching halt. Apparently, once you're past 30, your days of dropping 12 pounds in one week are gone.

When my 4th child was 3 months old I returned to WW with high hopes and high expectations. My experience was absolutely depressing. My reason for joining the first time was based mostly on real concern for my health, so that was my motivation. My reason for joining the second time was only out of vanity. One month into it, I walked away very frustrated and only 1 pound lighter.

My 3rd foray into WW World was only 7 weeks after my 5th child was stillborn. Suffice to say, I was looking for some kind of control over something. I was moderately successful and lost 12 pounds before I became pregnant with my 6th child.

So, that brings me to today. As I get older, I am beginning to have some real (and valid) health concerns, and I need to get my eating/exercising under control. Weight Watchers gives me a gameplan (the online version REALLY dummies it down for me!) to follow, so I can basically live my normal life, with just a few adjustments.

Am I looking to drop pounds? You bet.
Am I hoping to look better? Oh yeah.

But, these are all beneficial "side effects" of this program. First, and foremost, I am trying to make sure that my kids will have a healthy mom to take care of them and their kids (in the far, far future!). Secondly, I want to teach my kids that food doesn't own you; you make the decision how, what, and when to eat food. Thirdly, I want to feel that sense of control over my life and the empowerment that comes along with that. This does not mean that I control everything about my life (that's not even possible!), it merely means that I control some basic impulses instead of them controlling me.

I'm also doing a DVD workout that gives me a 12 minute workout everyday. Totally doable. I'd be ashamed if I couldn't fit that in!

Today, I'm using this blog as another way of holding me accountable. Periodically, I'll update with my progress, and I hope that all of you periodically ASK ME how I'm doing! Deal?

I'm actually really excited about starting a new year with a new plan, which is a recent improvement to my overall mood of late (just ask my kids!).

I'm also trying to forget that 1/2 pound box of chocolates hidden in my freezer. Oh well........